Recently, I’ve noticed that I have a habit of blind-buying controversial fragrances. It’s not intentional I’m sure, but the pattern is unmistakable. Perhaps there’s a subconscious tick that enjoys the thrill of proving someone right – or in some cases – wrong. Nevertheless, whether or not you believe that there is a true right or wrong in perfumery, the fact remains that noses disagree. The question is, are you willing to look past your own biases and resonate with a more objective point of view? I know I’m not. Mostly.
According to the reviews available online, L’homme Ideal Cologne (LIC) is the very definition of controversial. Some people love it, hailing it as a creamy and inexpensive summer staple in their collection thanks to that characteristic almond note and attractive price point online. Some people deride it as a blatantly boring citrus flanker with abysmal longevity and performance. Even long-time YouTube reviewer Sebastian Jara was shocked to find that Luca Turin had given it 4 out of 5 stars (a more than respectable score) in Perfumes: The Guide (2018), stating that it “achieves one of the best grapefruit notes in living memory.” In LIVING MEMORY. Yeah. High praise indeed.
However, I finally had the opportunity to sample it for myself last year. Being a big fan of the original L’homme Ideal and an even bigger one of the more leathery Eau de Parfum version (ps – I love cherry syrup), I was actually looking forward to sampling the lightest and brightest flanker of the bunch. Unfortunately, from what I can remember of the experience, it wasn’t a very good one. I was disappointed. Disgusted more like. It was absolutely dreadful. On skin, the juxtaposition of the citrus and sweet notes was rather unpleasant and gave the impression of being suffocated by a fluffy white pillow sprayed with drugstore disinfectant. Similar imagery came to mind when testing Chanel’s Allure Edition Blanche. To me, that one had a distinct undertone of bug spray (the best bug spray I’ve ever smelled mind you), and HM by Hanae Mori – a weirdly disjointed and screechy lemon candy. But one year following my less-than-heartening experience with LIC, I now own a bottle. So what happened?
Well the truth is, I got bored. And when you get bored, you look for something new to pacify your boredom (lol am I wrong?). And after passing up LIC for so long, I simply got sick of all the controversy. It was time to scoop up a cheap bottle and give it a thorough examination.
This is what I found.
It’s weird. Ok? Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s weird. Niche territory weird. But I certainly don’t hate it for that. In fact, for the price it’s currently going for online, the quality is outstanding. But here’s the rub – do you enjoy weird fragrances that go through 4 or 5 stages before disappearing completely in 4 hours? Caaaause this one sorta does.
But let’s start from the top. The opening blast on paper is friggin amazing. Juicy orange with that Ideal sweet cherry syrup, giving it an almost peachy accord. Without boring you with the details of the development, it basically dries down to L’homme Ideal Edt with some added grapefruit in the background. The effect, to me, smells like sweet Iced tea. Imagine a cold, crisp cherry flavoured Nestea on a hot summer day. Really good stuff. I absolutely love it.
But most uNFoRTuNaTely…it’s a different story on skin. Sure, the opening is the same, but it starts to turn REAL quick. The orange disappears entirely and is replaced by that authentic grapefruit. And when I say authentic, I MEAN it son. Luca Turin was right. It ACTUALLY smells like a grapefruit. RED grapefruit to be exact. None of that uber-lemony white grapefruit that has blanketed the top notes of the designer market nowadays, but actual – friggin – grapefruit. And you know what? I never really appreciated how much I don’t like grapefruit until now. What a strange coincidence wouldn't you say? Kidding! Kidding!
For about an hour, LIC doesn’t really know what it is. Sometimes I get very pleasant wafts of L’homme Ideal, other times, I feel my stomach turn from the queezy combination of grapefruit and Ponds hand cream. And as the grassy vetiver starts to kick in (not the spicy or soapy one I so enjoy), the fragrance takes on another strange personality. Is it soda? Is it hand lotion? A sweet rubber band? A female hygiene product? What the HELL man?
I don’t know, and part of me doesn’t WANT to know. Forget about your generic citrus freshies or sport flankers on the market today – this stuff tears those to PIECES. In fact, you might as well forget about the wonderful opening of LIC altogether, since the drydown on skin smells absolutely nothing like it. I mean, how does a fragrance go from sweet cherry-orange iced tea to distinctly unsweet, disjointed, powdery vetiver weirdness so quickly, with some fleeting glances of a God-like grapefruit??? I just….I just….
I dunno, I really don’t. But I can tell you this. LIC is staying in my collection for sure. Mind you, I’ll be spraying my clothes with this one. To me, it’s like that strangely misshapen kid whom everyone shuns but just needs a hug. You know, the one that smells like grapefruit skin lotion and eats grass? Maybe I’m missing something, but if you asked me, I probably wouldn’t recommend this to anyone looking for a mass-appealing fragrance.
Bottom line – The controversy is certainly justified, but it isn't bad juice. The quality is there, but the blend just takes some getting used to. Unfortunately for me, I should’ve went with my first impressions last year. But if you have a habit of blind-buying controversial fragrances, you eventually get what you deserve – cognitive dissonance apparently. In a sexy white a bottle.